Commemoration of the death of Maina Sunuwar hosted by OHCHR & Advocacy Forum
I would like to thank the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Advocacy Forum for providing me the opportunity to speak today. I do so, not only on my own account, but as the holder of the local Presidency of the European Union. The Heads of Mission of several non-EU states have also asked to be associated with the following remarks, namely Canada, Norway and the United States of America.
Today’s event, to mark the fourth anniversary of Maina Sunuwar’s death, is a sad reminder that despite the end of the conflict, the culture of impunity continues to undermine lasting peace in Nepal.
We recognise that facing the past is difficult. But ending impunity is an essential step towards preventing future violations and building a society where the rule of law rather than the gun is respected. By letting ongoing violence go unpunished, we are encouraging perpetrators to commit human rights abuses. And by letting past violations go unpunished, we are missing the opportunity to bring justice to victims and their families; and the opportunity to create trust and confidence between the parties.
The sad fact remains that despite nearly two years since the formal end of the conflict, no one has been prosecuted in a civilian court for human rights violations or abuses committed during the conflict. In order to create confidence in the peace process, the public investigation, trial and prosecution of emblematic cases is crucial. Cases such as the murder of Maina Sunuwar, the Madi bombing and the Bhairabnath Battalion disappearances, remain unresolved and all sides need to take responsibility for their part in these atrocities and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The Nepal Army has rightly declared its commitment to ensuring that the Army operates within the rule of law. And there is no better way for the Army to demonstrate that it is absolutely committed to improving its human rights record than by co-operating fully with investigations. This includes working with the Nepal Police and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal over the murder of Maina Sunuwar.
And it is not just state institutions that are guilty. The Maoists are also guilty of committing human rights abuses during the conflict, and indeed, they continue to carry out widespread acts of intimidation, abduction and extortion. The Maoists, like everyone else, must abide by the rule of law and take action against impunity.
In order to move forward and build a society where violence is unacceptable and respect for human rights is the norm, Nepal must address the past on the basis of truth, justice and reparation. In this context, we welcome the proposal to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Nepal which represents an opportunity to heal the wounds of the past. We urge the Government to ensure that the TRC is established only after extensive and inclusive consultation and only once there is an environment that allows truth-telling. We also urge the authorities to form an independent, impartial and credible commission on disappearances, based on international human rights standards.
Ultimately, the prevailing culture of impunity serves only those who wish to disrupt the peace process and make it difficult to hold Constituent Assembly elections. The international community expects the Government of Nepal to fulfil its international obligations and deal with impunity. We must all work together to ensure that no-one is above the law and that perpetrators of past human rights atrocities are brought to account for their crimes./.